Chapter 1: Intervention
Wally's ill health is greatly worrying the rest of the league and they can't just sit there and watch it happen.
“Guys? What’s going on?” Wally West, aka The Flash asked as he entered the meeting room they used on the newly made Watchtower. It was early morning on a Saturday and the others were already there, standing around the room instead of in their usual seats, rather solemn looks on their faces. It made him feel slightly uneasy, as though something bad had happened that he didn’t know about. For a moment no one spoke and Wally scratched his neck awkwardly, lowering his cowl as he fought the urge to crack a joke to break the ice.
“It’s come to our attention Flash that you are not taking proper care of yourself.” Somehow Superman always knew the exact amount of disappointment to put into his words to make Wally feel like a little boy in the principal’s office.
Wally slouched in his position near the windows overlooking Earth, trying to hide the poor fit of his costume that was hanging loosely on his frame. However, he got the feeling that he wasn’t fooling anyone; it was typically skin-tight after all. He shrugged defensively.
“Yeah maybe I’ve lost a little weight, so what? I’ve been busy.”
“Weight that you can ill afford to lose Flash.” Diana said reprovingly. “You already need to maintain a high calorie intake just to stay healthy and you’re not eating nearly enough to survive even if you weren’t using your abilities every day.”
“What is this, an intervention?” He exclaimed, disbelievingly. “I’m fine,” he said firmly, crossing his arms and letting a hint of anger into his voice. It wasn’t any of their business.
They’d been fighting so many things lately that his metabolism had gotten out of hand, desperate for an even larger amount of food to keep him going. Adding in the fact his job had recently changed many of the forensic scientist’s shifts to part time, as well as having to miss shifts to save the world, his funds were practically non-existent. Even before when he was having a good week he struggled to make enough to match the amount of food he needed eat, supplementing his food with some he could eat at Watchtower, but he didn’t want to scrounge too much off the others. His diet cost a lot and he didn’t want to put that pressure on anyone else, no matter how rich some of them might be.
“No you’re not,” Superman countered, crossing his own arms in reply which he could admit, looked much more impressive. “It’s become clear that it is too much for you to handle taking care of yourself on your own. You’re not eating nearly enough and it’s clear you’re not resting either. We’re not going to just sit here and watch you fade away through self-neglect. Instead, since it’s too hard for you to take care of yourself, we are going to do it for you.”
Wally gaped incredulously at the man of steel. The nerve! “Excuse me? You’re going to take care of me? What the hell Supes?!” He could see the others in the room were agreeing with Superman.
Superman just looked at him calmly, making him flush slightly. “That’s exactly what I said Flash.”
Wally straightened up, letting his indignity burn through. “Okay, this has gone on far enough. I know I’m the youngest here but I am an adult, and I am fully capable of looking after myself. I don’t need or want your help. Now, I’m going to leave and when I come back tomorrow I don’t want to hear any more of this crap.” He’d bunk over at his one of his friend’s house instead of in his room at the Watchtower tonight.
He turned to exit, about to slip into superspeed to get away from the absurd situation when he stumbled, abruptly dizzy and confused; mind suddenly struggling as though he was wading through a sea of molasses, unable to process what was going on as his legs gave out and he collapsed backwards into someone’s waiting arms. Someone who was wearing black Kevlar and a stern expression as he looked down at the redhead slumped in his arms that had lost all control of his limbs, his entire body becoming unresponsive.
“You’re wrong little boy. You’re ours. You just need a reminder.”
As his vision faded to black Wally’s last thought was of how stupid it was to forget about Batman.
I hope you like this, if you do I'd be grateful if you reviewed. It really helps me to write when I know people are actually enjoying what I've written.
Chapter 2: Waking Up
Wally wakes up to find a lot has changed.
Waking up was a slow process. Wally didn’t know what was going on; his mind was fuzzy, unable to remember what had happened. His limbs felt like deadweight and he felt an anxious hum escape him as he struggled to do anything, even open his eyes.
It seemed someone was there though as he heard a gentle shushing sound and next second there was a pair of warm large hands shifting him around, settling his head comfortably in what felt like the crook of someone’s elbow.
Something soft and rubbery was held up to his unresisting lips, gently pushing past them to sit comfortably on his tongue. He hummed, confused and not sure what to do but also felt as though he knew this and had done this before, lifetimes ago. And again there was a response; the rubber was lifted to brush the roof of his mouth and a sort of thick, sweet and heavy liquid flooded into his mouth. Instinctively he swallowed and before he knew it he was sucking hard on the rubber, pulling more of the liquid into him rapidly.
A low, gravely chuckle came from above him.
“Slow down baby boy, we don’t want you to choke, there’s plenty more.” The rubbery thing his glacial mind had tentatively named a teat was shifted slightly in his mouth, making it harder for him to draw the liquid from it and a whine escaped him. The voice chuckled again, a warm hand smoothing his hair.
“It’s alright baby boy, just take your time.”
The voice was quiet then, letting him suck the liquid. The action was repetitive and soothing, relaxing the small part of him that he didn’t even realise was anxious. The liquid was warm and comfortable in his stomach, surprisingly filling. When he was done, he felt himself lifted against someone’s shoulder and a hand firmly rubbed his back in circles. He wasn’t sure why, until he expelled something that made his stomach settle and then was lain back down on the persons arm, a soft cloth wiping his face. Soft but calloused fingers began to stroke his nose in a ticklish way which he failed at clumsily batting away, only to hear that same low chuckle.
“Come on baby boy, time to open your eyes.”
He wanted to growl, to say that he couldn’t, that he’d been trying, but when he tried this time he was rewarded with the temporary blinding light that slowly coalesced into a fuzzy picture of a dimly lit room, the dark shape of a blurry person above him.
“There you are little one.” The warmth in the voice felt slightly off, as though he was unused to hearing it. As he blinked, still finding it an effort to keep his eyes open his blurred vision started to sharpen and he was able to make out the shape of Bruce Wayne above him, in the under-shirt he wore beneath the Batman costume, no cowl in sight.
The billionaire smiled at the sight of his open eyes, gentling his touch so it no longer felt ticklish.
“Hello Wally. It’s good to see you awake. We were getting worried we would have to wake you up to get you to feed.”
He didn’t understand. Not what that meant, not why Batman had just fed him from what was evidently a bottle, nor why he looked so much bigger than usual or why he was speaking to him so gently. Straining his memories it came back in a flash and he looked at Bruce in disbelief. He was absolutely certain that Gotham’s own had drugged him when he’d disagreed with the team’s assessment. He frowned and opened his mouth to complain but as he tried to vocalise this all that came out was garbled syllables. It made him stop in his tracks and his surprise must have been evident on his face, for Bruce chuckled a little again, rubbing his belly gently. Bruce’s whole hand appeared to be larger than his belly.
“It’s alright Wally. I know this is a bit confusing, the important thing is that you relax; it’ll make everything easier for you.”
There was the sound of a door opening and Wally heard Clark’s voice. “Is he awake? I thought I could hear something.”
“He is Clark. I’ve managed to get a feed into him but haven’t explained yet. He seems quite confused, but I don’t expect him to be awake too long.”
Footsteps sounded and a big blue blurry shape came into view further back than Bruce. Frustratingly though, Wally couldn’t get his eyes to focus on what he knew must be Clark, he just remained blurry shape. Batman seemed to understand his plight.
“Sit down next to me Clark; his vision isn’t 20/20 right now.” What the hell did that even mean? Wally thought incredulously. It seemed that the Kryptonian had done what Bruce suggested though, and sure enough as his face got closer he could see him normally.
“Really? I didn’t know that,” Clark said, eyes fixed on Wally who was alternating between looking at Clark and Bruce, still not sure what was going on.
“Really,” Bruce said dryly. “A newborns vision doesn’t really settle until at least the end of the first month. While Wally has rapid healing alongside his superspeed it’s not a case of fixing a defect, it’s that the neural pathways are not totally built and developed yet. He might be able to see normally by say week three because of his powers but right now anything more than 12 inches away from him is blurry.” Wally’s brain seemed to freeze, unable to compute what Bats had just said, vaguely registering Clark’s reply.
“12 inches? So about the…” he trailed off.
“About the distance between him and a parent or guardians face when they’re holding him.” Bruce finished, shifting Wally slightly as he looked back down at Wally. He felt his mouth quirk slightly in a smile as he stared at the wide eyed little boy in his arms. He gently ran a finger from the arm curled around Wally across the palm of the tiny hand, feeling how it instinctively wrapped almost completely around his finger, too small to close the whole way.
“Useful,” Clark mused grinning. Bruce saw how he so very carefully, mindful of his immense strength, ran his finger over the baby soft cheek and across the tiny pink lips, huffing in amusement as Wally reflexively closed his mouth around it and sucked before the boys eyes went wide as he realised what he had done. Newborn reflexes were fascinating things, Bruce mused silently before settling his thoughts as he knew he had to for the next… well conversation wasn’t quite the right word; it’s not as if Wally could really talk back right now.
“Well at least feeding him shouldn’t be that hard now,” the Kryptonian said, still amused before pulling himself into a more serious look. “Should I get all the others?”
“Possibly. It might overwhelm him though.” A pause, then Bruce continued. “Maybe it should just be Diana, you and I for the moment, as we explain things. Could you get her?”
While the alien went to do just that he returned his gaze back to the infant in his arms who had yet to release his finger, possibly not realising he had it. It was clear to him that Wally was frustrated by the vague comments and that they had clearly not been bothering to include him in the conversation; but he had not yet got to the stage where he released his frustrations vocally. This could he knew, just be because he was scared of not being understood again. Wally was smart, a genius really, especially when it came to science; for all he liked to hide it behind a goofy exterior. They’d not been exactly cryptic when talking; but this was probably a little too out of the norm for Wally to guess on his own.
It had been about ten minutes and Clark was still fetching Diana, Bruce suspected he was explaining to the others that they wanted to break it to him gently and as he looked on, Wally fell back asleep in his arms mid yawn. He wasn’t surprised. It was typical for a newborn to need to nap every 45 minutes or so and Wally had been nursing on the bottle for half an hour; Bruce having slowed him down, not wanting him to choke or swallow too much air. He’d adjusted for Wally’s rapid metabolism by increasing the amount he gave him – yes Wally’s stomach was tiny right now, but that was nothing to the speed of Wally’s metabolism. They’d talked and decided to just increase the amount and rate of feedings that they’d need to give him to deal with his metabolism. Hopefully this was a short nap, he got the feeling it would surprise Wally that he’d fallen asleep while so confused and possibly anxious.
While he waited he allowed himself the time to just look at Wally, which was honestly what he’d been doing since the change. Wally was, he knew, a newborn and within the first week of his life, though he suspected that he was literally a newborn right now and that the change had taken him to the instant he was born which would make him hours old. It just took his body that long to wake up; having to fight off the drug he’d administered to him, as well as his body adapting to the big shock.
Wally was absolutely tiny, smaller than he would have imagined, fitting easily against his arm which he was very carefully cradling him in, mindful of how delicate the little body was, especially the neck which his research had shown could not hold his head up at the moment. The little body was thin and lithe, just as he was as an adult. And just like he was as an adult at the moment, Wally looked much thinner and more tired than he should, though thankfully not to the same extreme as he was while adult. When Wally had entered the meeting room it had shocked all of them. Wally had looked like he was wasting away, there was barely any muscle on his frame and he had thick, dark bags under his eyes that emphasised just how exhausted he really was. It was then Bruce knew, that any doubts the others may have had vanished entirely. Wally was not taking care of himself at all, and if they left it any longer he would die; whether from simply the lack of food and rest – body shutting down in protest, or the equally likely option of not having the energy needed to maintain his speed in battle and being hit as a result.
They’d clothed the little body in a soft onesie, feet and hands free at the moment and he marvelled again at the size. Once they explained it to Wally he was going to get him into socks and mittens, he just didn’t want to do it until they explained knowing it would panic the pint sized hero if he woke up feeling restrained. On the newborns left arm was a silver bracelet engraved with ancient runes, set flush against the skin and appearing as if it was almost painted on. This was the source of Wally’s regression.
When he had slipped it on the lax wrist of his teammate it had been about an inch and a half thick but had adjusted as it shrunk with Wally. There was a small part at the top of the bracelet blank of runes where it currently read 1 week in dark black writing. That writing he knew, would shift with Wally’s age allowing them to know exactly how old he was which would be helpful in adjusting feeding, sleep and other things that changed as a baby grew.
He’d been told when he procured the bracelet from the man who made it that it would change the wearer down in age exactly as he’d asked; adjusting the age he regressed to within the parameters that he’d specified, but was informed that the very first time it was put on it would make him a newborn. It was the magic’s way, the sorcerer had explained, of adapting and attuning itself to the soul of the person that wore it, the only person the magic would work on now. It would be useless on anyone else. From then on he knew it would adjust the age according to the needs of the wearer, or more specifically: Wally. So the more exhausted, sick, tired or just overstimulated the speedster was, the younger he would become, oscillating between birth and three and a half.
Finally Clark opened the door to the recreation room Bruce was waiting in, looking sheepish at Bruce’s raised eyebrow, but shrugging helplessly and gesturing Diana to step into the room before he closed the door. The princess raised an eyebrow at Clark holding the door for her but knew the farmboy did not do it to be patronising, he’d simply been raised that way. She walked over to Bruce on the couch and sat on his left, Clark on his right.
Almost as if on cue Wally’s tiny mouth and nose scrunched up and he opened his eyes blearily, Clark barely holding in a coo at the admittedly adorable sight. Bruce got the feeling he’d have to get used to that pretty quick. As Wally’s eyes focused they looked to Bruce, the confusion clearly visible. He smirked.
“You fell asleep baby boy. I did nothing, I swear.” As Clark and Diana lent over, Clark obviously having let her know about Wally’s reduced vision Wally took notice, attempting to put a stern face on, oblivious to how adorable that was. He opened his mouth, presumably to yell at them for their audacity but again all that came out was a gurgle. His vocal chords were not developed enough, and it made Wally blush.
“I think that you deserve an explanation, no?” Diana said and she ran a hand soothingly over his head, stroking the tufts of fiery red hair and was rewarded with Wally’s attention.
“We told you that we weren’t going to watch you kill yourself,” Clark began, a stern tone entering his voice. “You’ve dropped so much weight these recently, and it was clear that if we waited for you to fix the situation any longer you’d probably die. It was already evident by the footage we saw of your last few fights in Central and Keystone that you were going slower than usual; obviously still faster than anyone else but it was causing you to be vulnerable to your criminals and their weapons.”
“So we worked out a solution,” Bruce said, watching the intelligent eyes snap to him. “You needed someone to look after you, to care for you as you weren’t doing it yourself but you weren’t going to let us do it while you were capable to avoiding us.”
He looked seriously into Wally’s eyes, letting the gravity of the situation sink into his voice. He raised his hand which raised Wally’s arm as he was still gripping his finger and showed him the bracelet.
“Once that became obvious the solution was simple, if you weren’t able to avoid us you’d have to let us care for you. This bracelet here is embedded with magic and that magic turned you into an infant, someone who needs the care of family. Your body is currently only a few hours old, you’re a newborn Wally.”
They let him process it and saw clearly when Wally understood what they were saying. His eyes widened in disbelief and he clearly was trying to shake his head hard to deny what they’d said, unable to believe it despite all the indirect evidence he already had. There was an easy solution to this though and Bruce stood, walking them to the bathroom where he carefully tilted Wally’s face so that he could see himself in the mirror being cradled securely in Bruce’s arms. The bright blue eyes so typical of a newborn were shocked and stunned as he took himself in. Soon enough however it began to sink in, and his eyes filled with tears. Bruce carried him back to the lounge, soothing him gently as he cried over the situation, obviously feeling overwhelmed and helpless. He felt sympathy for the speedster but was also firm in his conviction that this was the right thing to do.
He’d have been happy to calm him down; knowing he had an advantage as by now Wally would have unconsciously started to process his scent. His instincts would find it soothing and as he’d been holding him since he was changed, (and therefore born) his mind would label the scent, and consequently him as a parent. Diana however, held out her arms wanting to hold him and calm him herself so the billionaire carefully passed him over. He knew better than to deny the Amazon what she wanted, and he could admit that he’d been hogging Wally.
Diana cradled him to herself, resting him against the soft skin of her chest; having removed her armour once it became clear that Wally wasn’t going to wake for a while. She pillowed the little head on her covered breast, smiling at the other two when it triggered another reflex as he nuzzled into it and began to calm down, mouth unconsciously opening and sucking lightly on her shirt and a small amount of skin. If anyone else had tried that she would have hit them so hard they’d be wishing for Tartarus, but even before Bruce suggested this method of helping Wally she’d admitted to having motherly feelings for the youngest member of the league, wanting to look out for Wally and protect him and his innocence from the darker side of life. He might have been a hero which did expose him to darkness, but she and the others had always done their best to shield Wally from the darker side of being a hero.
It was only after he was calm that Wally realised what he was doing, and he tried valiantly to pull himself away, blushing red all over but Diana simply kept him there, scolding him gently for his attempt, worried at him potentially hurting himself.
“Is it almost time for another feed?” She queried, looking to the Dark Knight who nodded, beginning to prep another bottle of formula, setting it on the warming pad to heat it to the appropriate temperature.
“Not yet but soon.” He gestured to the others and both sat down on the couch, Diana in the middle taking the padded blanket and laying Wally on her lap facing them cradling his head in her hands so he could see all of them. Bruce slipped a pacifier into his mouth, Wally not feeling strong enough to spit it out right then. The little one looked exhausted mentally and physically and it was obvious that it’d been a lot of information, but they wanted to get most of it out of the way so he could start adapting.
“Now Wally this isn’t going to be permanent,” Clark said, holding onto one tiny hand and swinging it gently. “We just want to help you get enough rest and nutrients. When you’re all better we’ll let you age up.”
“But it won’t happen until we’re satisfied,” Diana added.
“I should tell you that there is no point trying to take the bracelet off. It won’t come off until one of us removes it, which we’re not going to be doing for at least a month.” This last statement by Bruce made the redhead shift his gaze to him, alarmed but Batman continued on. “I know you’re not going to like that but that’s what’s going to happen and you need to try and get used to it. This whole thing will be easier for you if you just relax and let us take care of you.”
Clark nodded. “I know it’s hard, letting go of your self-control will be difficult but it’ll make the whole thing much smoother and nicer for you if you try.” The little head shook, getting more vigorous before Diana simply held it in place, frowning a little at him.
“Enough, Wally. We’re not going to let you hurt yourself. Now I know you’re probably worried about your work and your work as the Flash. That is easily settled. Bruce has arranged for you to have a ‘temporary transfer’ to work with him privately on something. Your bosses were satisfied with this and they’re fine with you working with Bruce.”
“The perks of being a billionaire,” Bruce said dryly. “We get to be completely eccentric and no one bats an eye. Now as to your duties as Flash, we reached out to several speedsters – Max Mercury and Jay Garrick among them. They didn’t fail to notice your ill health and have agreed to step up and help out in the gem cities for you until you’re back to full health. If there is anything life-threatening that requires your help we will of course age you up.”
Clark spoke again; the three had agreed earlier to explain the situation together so Wally understood that they were a united front in this.
“Now, you need to know what’s going to happen from now on. You’re very young right now, this means that we will be looking after you so you don’t have to worry about anything. This means you’re going to be fed, changed and put down for sleep. The only thing you have to concentrate on is relaxing and getting better.”
They didn’t fail to spot the outraged look on their infant friend, well aware that this would anger and incite Wally but knew he’d start accepting it before too long. It would just take him a little while to get used to the changes in his life. Bruce was sure that while Wally was not happy right now he would change his mind. The fact that J’onn had detected that Wally’s mental age was younger than the young hero already physically was, showed just how much he needed this.
Diana just cooed at Wally softly, her gentle mannerisms doing much to keep him calm when he obviously didn’t want to.
“Just this last little bit and we’ll let you rest Wally, I know it’s been overwhelming,” Diana said, stroking the little tufts of red hair.
“You’re probably wondering about the others, maybe thinking that the three of us are off our rockers and that they’d be able to help.” The slight widening of his eyes proved Bruce was right. “But this was a unanimous decision Wally. Everyone agreed that this was for the best, it was why we all tried to talk to you this morning.”
“We were all worried about you, and while Bruce, Diana and I will be largely responsible for you the others also care and will be helping out.” Clark finished, wiping at the tear that slipped from his eye. Wally had clearly had enough for now; anything more would just be overstimulating. “Now Diana and I are going to leave you with Bruce for a while to let you settle down. He’s going be the one largely in charge of you for this first little bit while your body settles, and you get used to this. I’m not sure if you’ll be staying up here or at the manor right now, but we’ll all be helping out.”
He glanced to Bruce, who mouthed ‘the manor’ and nodded. Leaning down, the Kryptonian pressed a gentle kiss to Wally’s forehead and stood up; Diana was on monitor duty tonight and while he’d initially planned to keep her company, he had heard a rumour that a certain bald billionaire might be up to something tonight. He wanted to take the time to investigate properly before the situation got out of hand as many of Luthor’s schemes were wont to do. Most of the others had wanted to be on hand this first night, but he’d talk to them and let them know that Wally needed them to not crowd him.
Once Clark left the room Diana turned slightly to Bruce, keeping a soft hand on Wally’s belly to keep him safe, still cradling his head.
“Bruce?” The billionaire raised an eyebrow enquiringly at her.
“Yes Diana? What is it?” The Amazonian took a moment to just enjoy hearing him talk in Greek before replying.
“We overloaded him a little didn’t we?”
“Yes I believe so. But I still feel it will be easier for him in the long run; he can take the time he needs to process everything now that he has all the facts. Still, I feel it would be better for him if he is processing it on a subconscious level.”
It was Diana’s turn to raise an eyebrow at him, “What, you think he needs a distraction?”
“Yes. If he’s focused on something else it’ll happen more naturally and cause him less anxiety. This will be enough of a struggle for him regardless.”
“Very well.” Diana then leaned against Bruce, letting him take some of her weight and he in turn wrapped an arm around her as the two looked down at the baby speedster. The little one appeared confused which made them smile. It seemed simply speaking in a different language and behaving slightly uncharacteristically was enough to distract him. Diana stroked a gentle finger on the soft cheek, amused when Wally reflexively turned his head and opened his mouth, looking confused as to why he did it afterwards.
“Do you plan to have Alfred look after him while you are on patrol, or are you going to bring him back here?”
Bruce hummed in thought, and then purposefully shrugged which elicited an almost incredulous look from Wally.
“I think it would be best if he stayed with Alfred. He’s going to be very temperamental these first few days, and with you and Clark both busy it could very well be too much for J’onn, Shayera and John – none of them have a smidgeon of experience with children.”
Diana laughed, picturing the three looking completely lost as they tried to change a diaper. While they were certainly going to become experienced over the next month – it wouldn’t happen overnight.
“Fair enough. I have to get to the control room for my shift.” Diana very carefully lifted Wally up, cradling his neck securely and placing a kiss to his forehead as well. “Good bye for now little one, I leave you in Bruce’s capable hands. Try and behave alright?”
Bruce took him out of her hands then, holding him easily in the crook of one arm as she left the room. Once she had left he checked his watch quickly and then focused on Wally.
“It’s time for a feed Wally. Now usually parents are supposed to go by when the baby’s hungry as long as it’s mostly within the recommended timeframe, but I get the feeling you’re going to be a bit difficult about this. Am I right?”
Wally’s face had developed a mulish expression that was so clear he didn’t even need the tiny nod he managed. Bruce raised an eyebrow in challenge. Well if that was how Wally wanted to play this he’d oblige.
“If that’s what you want, then so be it. I don’t really understand why you’ve decided to be so difficult about this though. You usually love food, and you’ve clearly been starving for some so you must be hungry. When you take that into account, not accepting food because its formula just seems foolish. I know it wasn’t that bad when you drank it earlier, if anything you seemed to enjoy it. I did take the time to try various formula’s to get one that tastes reasonably nice, it’s even sweet which I know you like.” As he hoped, the little tidbit that ‘the Batman’ had drunk baby formula managed to wrangle a smile from the boy before he schooled his expression again.
Bruce picked up the warmed bottle of formula and headed to the door, walking towards the teleport. He didn't bother to grab his armour, preferring to leave it on the Watchtower so that he had a spare one here for emergencies. He’d feed him at the manor where he could put Wally down for his next sleep once he was done. Diana smiled at him as he stepped on the transporter, sending the two of them safely to the Batcave.
I hope you like this, if you do I'd be grateful if you reviewed. It really helps me to write when I know people are actually enjoying what I've written.
Materialising in the Batcave Bruce ran a practiced eye over Wally; despite being one hundred percent confident in the teleport it never hurt to check. He walked up the stairwell and out into the study, sliding the grandfather clock back into place smoothly. A sound at the door prompted Bruce to look up, seeing Alfred, dressed impeccably like he always was in his suit.
“Master Bruce welcome home. And this is young Master…” he trailed off expectantly.
“This is Wally West, aka the Flash. You’ve met him before; he just wasn’t this young then.” Bruce knew the butler was well aware who he was holding, having helped him procure the necessary items in preparation; but Alfred preferred to use his manners, never calling someone by their name until they had been introduced, barring extenuating circumstances. Apparently this also applied to people he had met before when they looked different.
The Englishman stepped forward and Bruce shifted Wally slightly to let them see each other.
“Hello young Master Wally, it is wonderful to see you again.” Alfred inclined his head slightly to the babe as he said it and in his usual flawless way Alfred somehow defused the moment, preventing Wally from feeling embarrassed. He looked up at Bruce again.
“Is there anything you need at this moment Master Bruce?”
“Yes Alfred. I’m going to take Wally upstairs, would you please organise something for my lunch?”
Alfred agreed, leaving for the kitchen as Bruce walked up the stairs to the third floor where the main bedrooms were. Heading towards the back of the manor Bruce walked to a room only two doors away from his own bedroom. Inside the large room the walls were a soft yellow accented by the red trim. It had thick carpet that was a deep black with huge windows that looked out onto the sprawling grounds. Lifting Wally up slightly he helped him to see the whole room.
It was a nursery. There was a rocking chair near to the windows, which housed a comfortable reading nook, bookshelves imbedded in the walls which were filled with children’s books. A change table was along one wall, as well as what appeared to be a stylish black bar fridge which held a bottle warmer on top. There was a heavy chest on the ground sitting along the side of an extremely comfortable looking couch which was next to the walk in wardrobe. A crib was situated just left of the centre of the room, with a bassinet tucked into the corner of the room. The room’s furniture was solid wood that was a natural black colour. It was everything you’d expect to find in a billionaire’s nursery, except perhaps the colour scheme. Bruce couldn’t help but enjoy the complete look of shock on the tiny face. He got so used to his wealth it was easy sometimes to forget what it looked like to others.
He waited until he had Wally’s attention before speaking up in a gentle tone. “This is your room Wally. I want it to be a safe space for you where you can relax and have fun. If there’s anything that you want changed when you’re older just say the word. I know Alfred enjoyed helping me fill this room; it wouldn’t bother him at all to get anything else.”
The look on the little face was easy for him to work out. Wally was confused. This room was, Bruce knew, proof that this wasn’t just a big joke to them all; that they weren’t doing this to belittle and upset him but instead wanted him to feel safe and comfortable and cared for. It was harder for Wally to dismiss what they were saying when he was presented with solid proof that they genuinely cared for him and wanted him to enjoy this as well.
“This is your room. That means we’ll respect this as your space. You’re too young at the moment to sleep here on your own and so for now you’ll be in with me but I promise this can be a place for you to relax.”
For the first time since they explained Wally relaxed. It was a subtle thing – his muscles just a touch looser but for a man who had to read every slight movement in his opponents body to guess what they were about to do it was obvious. Wally believed him. He was open to finding out what this space would be like for him which meant he’d be more willing to give them a chance, to see if they’re crazy idea would actually be alright. Bruce knew this didn’t mean that he would go along with everything and wouldn’t put up a fight; no there’d definitely be strong opposition from Wally for some things until he got used to it. He just wasn’t saying a point blank no to everything. Case in point: feeding.
Bruce headed to the rocking chair and sat down on the comfortable seat. He’d considered sitting on the window seat which had a better view, something he knew that Wally would enjoy but his research into looking after infants – especially newborns, said repeatedly that rocking chairs were incredibly soothing and helped infants struggling to nurse, something that Wally would definitely be for a while.
He took a moment to get Wally situated comfortably in his arms, forgoing the nursing pillow for now before bringing up the bottle and holding it within view of Wally. “Are you ready to give this a try Wally? It wasn’t that bad the first time was it, and it’ll make you feel better. I know you might be feeling a bit embarrassed but I promise no one will make fun of you. It’s not too much, just a little.”
Wally still looked nervous, an anxious whine escaping his mouth which Bruce soothed. “How about I do all the work okay? You just have to relax and not fight. I promise it’ll be okay.” He’d never expected his skills as a businessman would be used in this way. Wally let out another whine, but didn’t try to bat the bottle away. Conversely he didn’t open his mouth either when Bruce brought it close but that was fine. Wally had already proven without realising it that he had all the reflexes and automatic responses all newborns had to encourage them to nurse even while struggling.
He gently stroked a finger along his left cheek, which was closest to his own chest and Wally automatically turned to it, mouth opening. Bruce slipped the nipple in, which rested comfortably in the small mouth. Again Wally didn’t suck; obviously fighting that urge but the vigilante merely tilted the bottle so it touched the roof of his mouth and Wally started sucking, eyes wide when he realised he didn’t do it consciously. The little cheeks blushed red but he didn’t stop, though he clearly wanted to. Bruce slowly pushed with his feet, and the chair moved smoothly in time with Wally’s sucks. He had his eyes shut tight, though Bruce privately hoped that would change when he got more used to it.
He hummed absentmindedly as he fed Wally, looking at the most fragile and defenceless thing he had ever held. It made something within him warm to be a caregiver to this special boy who had sped into all of their lives and turned them on their heads with his quick wit and blinding smile. While Wally was no longer the sixteen year old pretending to be twenty he was still so very young, still innocent in ways that he and the others weren’t. It made him more resolved than ever before to keep fighting, not just to protect Wally from the darkness, but to protect other families out there. Families with equally precious bundles that they wanted to protect from harm, but who didn’t have the skills and capabilities he and the rest of the league did.
His thoughts drifted to the case he was currently working on as he tipped the bottle to ease Wally’s drinking, the little face less red and scrunched up the longer he drank. There’d been a recent spate of kidnapping recently but those that were missing weren’t the usual rich elite taken as those less well-off tried to make a quick buck. He had his suspicions and would be scoping them out tonight. Depending on what he found he would either take care of it himself – with or without the Gotham Police or send the information to Commissioner Gordon to sort out. There were times that it was better for the case for the police to take them into custody without his help.
Soon enough Wally was finished and Bruce removed the teat, dropping the bottle to the floor to pick up in a minute. He lifted Wally to his shoulder and gently rubbed the small back until he felt the release of gas, murmuring support and praise, pressing his lips to his temple warmly. Now was the bit that he was not ashamed to admit he was slightly nervous about. He’d been very discreetly checking Wally’s diaper since he’d first put him in one but he had yet to go. Bruce knew that in the next few days he should be going at minimum five times a day, but only once or twice in the first two days was okay. He wasn’t afraid or disgusted about changing the diaper, rather nervous at the reaction Wally would have to it. It was completely understandable if he blanched at being so exposed. Feeding him had gone a lot better than he had hoped; evidently managing to get a bottle in before had really helped. He didn’t think it would be the same for this though. He was prone to, as Alfred kindly put it ‘over researching things,’ and between that and getting Alfred’s advice he knew exactly how to help encourage Wally to go. Thankfully he could pass off the position as one to help strengthen his muscles; it was a very handy position as it not only allowed for ‘tummy time’ but also was the most soothing hold for an infant struggling to sleep. He got the feeling he’d be using it a lot even if it felt weird for Wally initially.
He stood up and slowly, mindful of his fragility, Bruce moved Wally around until he was lying on his forearm, hand gently supporting him on his crotch to hold him safely, little head turned away from him. Wally let out what Bruce suspected was a confused and embarrassed whine, a note of anxiety in it at the feel of his hand on his private area through the diaper. The speedster had rapidly adapted to them holding his behind to support him, this was just a bit new. Batman rubbed the small back in slow strokes, murmuring soft encouragement at Wally; explaining that the position was to help his muscles, especially in his neck and back; adding that no one was trying to embarrass him by the way they were holding him, they were just doing it in the safest way possible, the way doctors recommended. The little nod against his arm and the loosening of tense muscles let him know it was okay. He continued holding Wally like this, stroking his back and rocking slowly for a few minutes and was rewarded soon enough when he felt him release. He was already heading to the change table before Wally had even realised what he’d done.
Laying the child down Bruce was unsnapping the onesie before Wally had let out his first cry. Evidently his embarrassment and distress was more than his determination to not be seen as a baby. Shushing gently Bruce was as quick as he could be while being thorough, getting Wally into a clean diaper despite his distressed wriggling and crying.
The room was warm and Wally was squirming enough that for the moment Bruce forwent dressing him properly; just bringing the diapered boy straight to his chest, hoping his heartbeat would help. It was more important to sooth him now than worry about clothes, what had just happened for Wally was a big change. Until now he’d still had a smidgeon of control in what he did, but his lack of bladder control really highlighted just how young, helpless and dependant he was. It showed him just how much he needed the others. Bruce tried to sooth him, but the minutes went by with no sign of Wally stopping crying, his distress coming out in wails.
Movement at the door to the nursery revealed Alfred, a sad smile on his face. He walked in and ran a gentle hand down the small back, Bruce’s own on Wally’s neck and behind to hold him to the crook of his neck.
“I take it young Master Wally had his first diaper change,” his voice was calm and soft, soothing in its own way.
“Yes Alfred. It was an unpleasant surprise for Wally that has clearly upset him, but I can’t seem to get him to calm down.”
“It’s been over twenty minutes now since he started crying Master Bruce, at this point he’s only working himself up further and will make himself sick. If I may, I have a suggestion that will help.”
“Of course.” He wanted Wally to stop crying, it hurt to hear the very real distress and not be able to fix it.
“He needs skin on skin contact.” Bruce raised his eyebrow, sceptical but Alfred nodded firmly. “Remove your shirt and hold him to your chest. Talk to him. The warmth, skin contact, the feel and sound of your heartbeat and voice will calm him. Just rock him for now, but when he starts calming I’d suggest lying down with him on your chest.”
The butler held out his hands expectantly, and Bruce gave in. The Englishman took Wally and expertly held him while Bruce stripped off his shirt. That done, he cradled Wally against him and knew within seconds that Alfred was right. It wasn’t all at once but slowly Wally’s distress was calming, leaving his cries as they slowly got quieter. Soon enough Wally was simply letting out a whimper or two, which Bruce shushed as he swayed. Now that he wasn’t crying he slipped Wally a pacifier which he started sucking placidly, self-soothing. The black haired man looked to the one who’d raised him and Alfred let out a pleased smile.
“You’re very good with him Master Bruce. What he needs now is to lie down with you. Go lay on your bed, or else on one of the couches in the library. He needs a sleep, and it’ll both sooth him and strengthen your bond if he’s in your arms when he does. It lets him know that you’re there for him. It also wouldn’t be terrible if you yourself napped with him.” Bruce smiled at that.
“Thank you Alfred, from you that is high praise though I have to say that last bit sounds rather like your endless campaign to get me to sleep more. But won’t he fight it now he knows?” Alfred didn’t reply for a moment, and instead led him to the mirror in the wardrobe, where Bruce could clearly see that Wally’s eyes were open but unfocused, the child awake but drifting at the same time. Again Alfred shared his wisdom from long experience.
“At this moment everything I say is just going in one ear and out the other, background noise to him. The only thing Wally is doing right now is focusing on you; every sense of his is tuned to you right now. Your voice is the only thing he is hearing and its gospel to him. You are the only and most important thing in his world right now. It’s a way little children cope when things get overwhelming. The diaper change on top of everything else pushed him over the edge so his world narrowed around someone familiar he feels safe with. You.”
He let that settle for a moment. It was incredibly humbling to know that Wally’s whole being was focused on him and he felt honoured. Taking Alfred’s advice Bruce carried Wally over to his room, which currently had a bassinet, change table and feeding station added to it, Alfred having helped set it up before Bruce left to talk to Wally. Adjusting the temperature so it was slightly warmer Bruce lay down, the little speedsters head pillowed on his chest comfortably, head turned so Bruce could see his face when he looked down. He laid a supportive hand on the diaper, and slowly stroked his other hand up and down the back. Gradually the last of the little hiccups disappeared, Wally’s breathing and heart rate returning to the healthy normal unique to speedsters. Bruce could feel the moment Wally fell asleep, completely boneless against him as he sucked the pacifier calmly.
Slowly the warmth of holding Wally started to have the same effect on Bruce. The baby was sleep-warm, smelling of that indefinable scent that was unique to babies, and completely relaxed in his hold, trusting Bruce to protect him. Securing him a bit more Bruce allowed himself to drift off, knowing the slightest sound would wake him and that they were safe.
The next week happened glacially for Wally. Bruce had organised to spend most of the week working from home; this allowed him to spend almost his whole time with Wally, with the exception of patrols. Wally was sleeping in a bassinet next to Bruce’s bed, which allowed him to get to him fast for feeding and changes. Bruce quickly adapted to late night feedings, finding it easier to do them shirtless as the skin contact prevented most of Wally’s grumbling; well used to late nights and little sleep. It was something special to feed the sleepy boy in the dead of the night – feeling like they were the only two awake in the world as Wally looked up at him trustfully. Similarly Bruce became proficient at changing Wally, beginning to be able to do it without waking Wally sometimes. As he hoped the repetition got Wally used to everything, and while he was still embarrassed it didn’t distress him to be changed anymore. Instead, like the research that he’d done into looking after the needs of a baby, both physical and emotional suggested; the diaper changes had started becoming an important time emotionally to spend together. It allowed for close one on one interaction and proved to Wally that Bruce cared and was there for him.
After the first week Bruce alternated having Wally sleep at the manor and in the Watchtower, where the others could also spend time with him. It was relatively easy for Diana and Clark to begin bonding with the speedster; their gentle care soon becoming comforting. J’onn, Shayera and John enjoyed taking care of Wally, John frequently eliciting happy sounds from Wally with some of his antics. Indeed Wally slowly relaxed overall, slowly putting on the desperately needed weight and letting them take care of him.
By the end of the month it was clear Wally had definitely started accepting the attention and care the others had for him, J’onn detecting the beginning of an infant headspace developing; though it was clear he still was looking forward to being his proper age again. When it came time the team had gathered in the rec room together, they had started on a nursery for Wally but it wasn’t done yet.
Superman had outlined how things were going to change, saying clearly,
"We’re going to let you return to your normal age Wally, but we’re all going to keep an eye on you so your health doesn’t deteriorate like that again. You obviously need care and we will look after you. That doesn’t mean you have to transform, but we want to help you. We care and want to see you happy and healthy.”
Wally had nodded at that, and so Bruce laid him on the couch, and carefully removed his onesie and diaper, draping a towel over his lower half to protect his modesty when he changed before slipping the bracelet off. Within moments Wally was fully grown again. They tensed, waiting for him to bolt but he didn’t. The speedster pulled himself to a sitting position and wrapped the towel securely around his waist, curling up and pulling his knees to his chest, wrapping his arms around himself, his face strangely blank.
“Wally?” Diana asked softly, drawing his eye momentarily, before it flickered to Bruce and then back to his knees.
“Will you sit? You’re making me nervous,” his voice was quiet and they did, Bruce and Diana carefully taking the seats next to Wally who didn’t tense when they did. They all were silent, waiting for their youngest to gather his thoughts.
“This has been the strangest month of my life, and that includes when I got my powers as a kid and when I accidently travelled backwards in time. Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected this, that my teammates would take away my free will and autonomy ‘for my own good’.” The quotation marks were clearly heard, and they fought to maintain eye contact with Wally when he looked each of them in the eye; and one by one they looked away, even Clark and Bruce, who were firm in their convictions about what they did. No one spoke, letting him have his say now after a month of him being forcibly silent. He didn’t raise his voice, keeping it the calm but that was somehow worse. It was much more effective than if he had raged and shouted.
“I’m not going to lie; I’m not quite sure how I should feel about all of this. Do you know how terrifying it was to wake up and discover that I was completely helpless, at your mercy for every single aspect of my life, knowing that if you all didn’t care for me properly I could die without being able to do anything about it?”
Bruce did break his silence at that, speaking for all of them. “You know we would never have done that Wally. You’re not just our teammate, your family to each of us.” The emerald eyes locked onto bright blue.
“I know that. If nothing else, the last month definitely highlighted that fact to me.” Though his words could be interpreted positively, no one could ignore the bitter undertone. He looked them all in the eye again and they froze. He just looked so lost.
“I don’t know what to feel right now and I don’t know if I can trust any of you after this.” He gestured at Clark. “I mean, you’ve already made it clear that you think I need care. It’s not rocket science for me to realise that you are perfectly happy making me young again if you think it’s best. You don’t seem to realise that I’m an adult, perfectly able to look after myself. I’ve been doing this gig longer than almost all of you, since I was a young teenager so I know how to look after myself. But regardless, it’s my right to make my own decisions, even if they are poor ones. I mean that’s part of why became heroes in the first place isn’t it, to fight for people’s right to be free and make their own choices? It’s why we don’t kill the villain’s and while we don’t agree with their choices and what they do we all understand that they are adults and able to make their own decisions. I’m so very angry at you all, but I’m also hurt. You guys are supposed to be my friends and teammates, people I can trust with my life and have done before. How can I trust you after this? Why even should I?”
Wally ran his hands through his hair before speaking again. “Look, I don’t think I can be around you all right now. I need some time to myself, to process everything and think things through. I don’t want to see any of you until I’m ready, so I want you to leave me alone. Obviously if there’s a crisis that I’m needed for I won’t shy away but please refrain from contacting me for anything less.” With that, the speedster vanished, running out of the room and to the teleport. Clark could hear it as he used it, most likely going to Central City.
They were silent as they took it in. His words made them feel guilty, and at least slightly ashamed at their actions. He was right when he said as an adult he could make his own decisions. While he was still very young he was no longer under eighteen and therefore had the legal right to choose how to live his life. It had hurt to hear that he no longer trusted them, that he felt he needed to get away for a while to think things over. They had always known there was a chance that Wally would react like this; no one really likes losing control of their life without consent, they’d just hoped he wouldn’t.
Finally John said, slightly nervously. “I could go and talk to him, we’ve always gotten along.”
Bruce shook his head. “No. I think we should let him have his space. He obviously needs to process everything before he feels comfortable enough to see us again.”
While slightly reluctant, not wanting to leave Wally alone when he was so obviously distressed, the others agreed to follow Bruce’s lead. He had known Wally the longest after all, and was the one the speedster usually held the most respect for. In the end they had all spent a rather uneasy day together, privately relieved to be able to go to their homes that night to think things over. Wally had given them all a lot to think about. He was always a chatterbox, but they’d realised he usually didn’t talk about personal or meaningful things, instead enjoying lightening the mood. Being forced silent had obviously had an effect on him. He didn’t mince his words, with each syllable hitting on target and shaking them up, making them look at their actions from a different perspective.
I hope you like this, if you do I'd be grateful if you reviewed. It really helps me to write when I know people are actually enjoying what I've written.
Chapter 4: Time to Talk
Wally and the league have an overdue talk.
The next four weeks passed quietly. It was strange for everyone to not have Wally around, whether as a child or as his usual cheerful, hyperactive self. The speedster had mostly stuck to the gem cities, though he was spotted in various places around the globe, obviously stretching his limbs after being cooped up so long. It was obvious he was much healthier, his uniform fitting properly and easily taking down any of his villains.
The rest of the league did not see Wally in person until a joint villain attack that they were losing without Flash. They hadn’t called for him, wanting to respect his privacy but as they took hit after hit they all clearly were weighing up calling him for help. Before they did though, he materialised next to Batman.
“What do you need me to do?” His voice was devoid of emotion, but he’d clearly put away any personal thoughts while he helped with the situation, not allowing it to affect his work. He worked just as well as he usually did with his teammates. He followed orders, suggesting other strategies and helped capture the villains. But instead of the typical cheerful banter that he was known for, he was quiet; only speaking when spoken to, not adding any irreverent remarks. The villains had picked up on it as well; it was customary for them to exchange quips and snide insults with the scarlet speedster but he remained silent despite their taunting. This unusual behaviour might have helped them to catch them as it clearly unnerved some of the villains.
When they were done Flash helped clear the rubble from the streets so that civilians could get back to their daily life as fast as possible. It was something he was firm about, as he liked to point out, the work wasn’t done just because they’d fought the bad guys. Thankfully there were none of the bystanders had anything more than a few cuts and grazes that the paramedics could take care of.
The seven of them stood in an awkward circle, no one quite knowing what to say. Flash rubbed the back of his neck in a sheepish gesture that was so like him it made the others smile – well except Batman; he had a reputation to keep after all.
“I’ll fill out my report and send it to the Watchtower serves by tomorrow,” he directed it at Batman and Superman, who nodded not sure what else to do. Shayera fluttered her wings anxiously, wanting to go to the hero she thought of as a little brother.
Diana took a step closer saying, “Flash-” but he shook his head firmly, before speaking over her.
“I’ve got to go, plenty to do. Just don’t hesitate to call me for situations like this.” He sped off in a streak of scarlet. It lowered their spirits as they saw him leave, the high of success dampened by his abrupt disappearance.
“Give him time,” Batman said a touch of sympathy in his gruff voice as he looked to Wonder Woman. They all dispersed, heading either to the Watchtower or back to their civilian jobs that they’d left to deal with the situation.
It was another week before Wally appeared on the Watchtower, having helped out in another two disasters in the meantime, disappearing just as quickly when he was done. It did give the others hope though to hear him return to his constant running commentary during their last run in with the Injustice League.
Appearing on the teleportation pad he looked to Batman who was sitting at the monitor. “Do you think you can get the others to come to the recreation room? I’m ready to talk.”
Batman nodded and Flash speed off, making his way there himself at a normal human pace after shifting the monitor to automatic, set to alert him if a situation arose requiring their help. Entering the recreation room he was the second last there, Diana following shortly after, drying her hair from the shower she’d taken after a swim. Wally had taken his usual seat on the couch, the others looking nervous had all resumed the seats they’d been in when they’d last all be here together. With only two seats left Diana and Batman tentatively took the seats next to Wally again; Batman making a mental note to replace the chairs and couch that Shayera, John and Wally had broken during a mock fight over who’d really won in their video game.
When they did Wally took off his cowl revealing his fiery hair and emerald eyes. He looked to Batman, the only other among them who wore something to conceal their identity. Even though they all knew his identity now he preferred to leave his cowl on while on the Watchtower.
“Can you take it off? I want to talk to Bruce, not Batman. This is a conversation with Wally to you guys, not Flash. Our hero identities aren’t really involved.”
Batman nodded and took off his cowl, running a hand through his black hair to unflatten it, blue eyes fixed on the speedster. Wally took a slow deep breath, resting his hands between his knees before lifting his head to look at them all.
“Sorry I’ve been AWOL these last few weeks. I needed the time to think everything through.”
Diana shook her head, laying a tentative hand on his arm, bolstered slightly when he didn’t brush her off. “Don’t be ridiculous Wally; it’s perfectly understandable for you need time. We all needed that time to, to think through everything.”
Bruce nodded, looking at the young hero. “We all owe you an apology Wally. We were so concerned with your health that we made that our priority and instead of just offering you our help and lightening you load we took over, deciding that we knew best when it came to you and your needs.”
The others nodded, echoing the apology and Wally’s lips twitched slightly in a hint of a smile. “Thank you. I really appreciate your apology. More than anything it proves to me that you understood why I was so upset and that you were in the wrong doing what you did. It means you haven’t let the power we have go to your heads. I was worried that if you were so comfortable doing what you did that maybe it wasn’t impossible for you to follow along the path of the Justice Lords. They decided they knew what was best for the world after all.”
The words sent a shiver of ice through them all. They hadn’t considered that but Wally was horrifyingly right. Those versions of themselves had decided that they knew best and were the right ones to be in charge after the death of their Flash. It was no giant leap of logic to think that if they’d got their Flash back, or had even taken this one that they’d do everything they could to him safe from harm. No version of Wally they knew would let them get away with what they did and it wasn’t impossible to think they would have kept Wally young where they could protect him and keep him safe.
Wally smiled weakly at the looks of horror on their faces, glad he’d been able to reach them. It proved to him that they weren’t completely unreachable and that there was a reason he had trusted them all in the first place; that his trust hadn’t been misplaced. They were still the same heroes he’d come to depend on. Now however it came time for him to tell them what he’d been working up to for the last week. He took another deep breath before looking around.
“I can’t completely say I didn’t or don’t understand why you did what you did. I know I’d been looking like I was starving because I was starving. We’d been so busy and I was struggling with work and everything else on top of it that I wasn’t taking care of myself. I should have spoken up and asked for help, I just didn’t want to bother you guys. I’m already the youngest and it’s a bit pathetic that I needed to ask for help with basic needs.”
Clark lent forward, a serious look on his face. “Wally it’s no shame to speak up. We didn’t realise how much you had on your plate and that you were struggling so much to make ends meet but it’s not weak to ask for help.”
Bruce added, getting a weak smile from the redhead. “Wally you know how rich I am. If you needed money for food I’d have been happy to help. It’s not as though I’m strapped for cash.”
This attempt at humour reminded Wally about something. “I wanted to thank you for that. I’m not oblivious to the fact you’ve been helping me out financially for the last month or so, making sure that I had enough for everyday needs and food. You didn’t need to though.”
Bruce shook his head. No one ever really understood. “It’s not a hardship for me Wally. I care for you so of course I want to help you out when you’re in trouble. Making sure you have enough to eat comfortably isn’t going to break the bank. I’ve been thinking and I want you to have access to an account that you can use while you’re Flash so that you always have access to funds when it comes to food. It’s important that you have enough and means there’s no chance of you fainting or getting hurt because you are starving or don't have enough energy. You shouldn’t be punished by paying more when you use your abilities to save others.”
This drew them all up short. He hadn’t mentioned it to the others, wanting to talk to Wally first about it. The idea clearly was polarizing for the speedster. He could see Wally warring within himself. His pride which said he shouldn’t need help for basic necessities against the logic that he would be able to be a better hero if he didn’t have to worry about not having enough energy to do what was necessary.
Eventually Wally gave a small nod, conceding to Bruce. It seemed logic won for the moment, though Bruce got a feeling Wally would try to sneakily pay him back, something he made a note to keep an eye out for. “Thanks Bruce, I appreciate it. Though maybe it should just be a general account that any of us could use, we’re not always done in a few hours, and everyone needs to eat.”
Bruce tilted his head. “I’ll organise a separate account for everyone else, that way they can access it as needed as well. I want you to have your own account though.” Wally didn’t argue with that.
“Sorry I got us all side-tracked. But it’s still similar; you’re attempting to take care of me, make sure I have enough food. And while I don’t appreciate how you went about everything, taking away my freedom without consent, you all took care of me, adapting your life around my needs while I was young and I can’t forget that.” Wally didn’t look away from Bruce till he was finished. “You gave me a home, a place I could feel safe in. That means a lot to me.” The ginger then very tentatively leaned against Bruce who responded immediately, stoicism absent as he angled his body slightly so Wally could rest more comfortably against him, head resting on his shoulder.
“I guess I’m saying that despite everything, despite the fact you gave me no choice in this I’m willing to give it a chance, to see if this is right for me.” He looked to Clark as he said this, fingers lacing with Diana’s as they all smiled at him. “But I mean it when I say that I get a say when we do this, and that if I say stop we stop. No exceptions.”
The others nodded, still shocked at the turn of events. They had noticed that Wally had started to enjoy it before the end but after he lambasted them about his lack of choice they were more concerned about if he would be able to trust them again and if he was going to stay in the league, than if he would ever want to give it a try.
Wally continued to lean on Bruce as he took in the sight of those he considered part of his family. While this may have initially been completely horrifying he could see why they thought that was the only option. He could admit that they were right to be concerned about his health; he’d been seeing spots of black most of the time, close to passing out frequently. If he had went on much longer he knew his metabolism would have continued eating into his muscles in an attempt to get nutrients till the point his body shut down in protest. Through his friend’s careful care, however unwanted it was he’d slowly returned back to a healthy weight, getting back his usual energy and verve for life. The longer he’d been in the care the more he realised why they were doing this and how much they cared, and while he was still raging at the injustice of it a small part of him had begun to feel warm at the care and love they had shown him. The time he spent one on one with them had started to be special as he saw a side of them that no one else really got to see, despite being friends with other heroes.
So he’d give this a chance and hopefully it’d bring them all closer and be something he began to look forward to.
Wally was anxious, twisting his hands furiously in his lap and jiggling one leg up and down as he fought the urge to vibrate, something he did when nervous. He’d managed to not start pacing, but that was mainly because he didn’t want to see Bats’ face at the burnt hole in the carpet that always happened when he did.
“Wally,” Diana said, taking one of his hands in hers and squeezing gently. “It’s okay. It’s fine to be nervous but if you’d rather wait we can. You don’t have to do this today.”
He shook his head. “No, no I know that, I want to. I’m just…”
“Nervous,” Clark finished with a smile. The Kryptonian leant over the edge of the couch and squeezed the back of his neck gently, loosening the tight muscles.
“Yeah.” He said bashfully. It’d been more than a month since he’d returned to the team properly and talked with them all. They’d left it alone for a while before he’d tentatively brought it up, wanting to know more. Bruce had then explained how the bracelet worked and the large age range it had. It was easier to contemplate now he knew he wouldn’t necessarily be as helpless as he was the first time, and that that had happened merely to synch the magic with him.
At that point they all sat down and talked about it, what they wanted from this and what their expectations of each other were. While the idea that they were comfortable feeding, bathing and changing him made Wally nervous and embarrassed he understood that that was just part of it. When the others swore that they would take what he wanted into account he relaxed and seriously thought about it. He had approached the others earlier in the week about the possibility of trying and they had agreed to try on the weekend when they were mostly free, barring any world ending events.
Bruce came forward then, cowl off and uncharacteristically crouched before him, a hand on Wally’s knee. “Are you sure you want to do this Wally? You don’t have to.”
“I do,” Wally said, nodding firmly. The fact that they kept asking reassured him more than anything else.
“You know that when you’re changed we will treat you differently? We’ll treat you as younger in both body and mind, though not necessarily as young mentally as you are physically. You know that when you’re young we become responsible for you and for your health and safety? That this means we might have to do things you don’t like?” Blue eyes searched vivid green carefully.
“I know,” Wally said. He’d already come to terms with it, and knew that it could be relaxing to give up control.
“That unless you call your safeword we will keep you young until we’re satisfied?” This had been a bit of a point of contention between them all, but by having a safeword Wally had relaxed. If it got too much and he used it the others had promised to remove the bracelet. They’d worked out a signal for if he was unable to speak as well.
“I know.” Bruce nodded at that and gestured for Diana to move off the couch.
“Okay Wally. If you’re sure I need you to lie down okay? It’ll be easier for you that way.”
The speedster did so, feeling a bit vulnerable under the watchful eyes of the others.
“Give me your hand Wally.” Bruce said and the billionaire slipped the bracelet over his wrist and onto his arm. This time he was conscious for it, so watched interestedly as it glowed gold, shrinking to fit his hand before it glowed again but he wasn’t able to concentrate on that as his world suddenly shifted, dizziness overtaking him the spinning feeling consuming his mind.
Soon enough it stopped and Wally tentatively opened his eyes again. Like before, everything appeared bigger than usual; it just wasn’t quite as large a difference as last time. Turning his head to the side he was greeted by Bruce’s face, a small smile on his lips.
“Hello Wally.” He reached over and gently inspected Wally’s wrist. “You’re physically ten months old at the moment, okay?” While Wally processed this weird thought Bruce had started removing the oversized clothes, picking him up when he was done. This made Wally blush, but the others seemed to ignore it and Bruce carried him over to the table, where he’d evidently laid out a change mat in case it would be needed. As he was laid down he noticed that the others, with the exception of Diana and Clark had stayed over at the other side of the room to give him more space. He appreciated the gesture. Bruce ran a hand through his hair before saying, “Let’s get you dressed. You’ll be much more comfortable then.”
With the ease of long practice the billionaire did it, more than capable of managing the squirming Wally couldn’t help do. It was still embarrassing even though he agreed to it. Diana mostly managed to distract him though, telling him about a recent trip to Themyscira that she’d taken and stroking his hair. It was always fascinating to hear of the magical land, so different from the rest of the world. He was done soon enough, and Bruce got him into a Flash onesie, with rubber grips on the knees and feet. The sight of it made him grin, which made the others smile too. He suspected that was on purpose but didn't mind. A sound from the other end of the room got his attention as Bruce placed him on his hip. John and Shayera were playing a video game, J’onn watching interestedly. He wanted to look, squirming in Bruce’s hold to get him to let go.
Diana and Clark laughed the former running soft fingers through his hair. “Oh Wally.” Diana cooed.
“Not yet baby boy. You can go have a look in a minute, you need to eat first.” Bruce said kind but firm, walking over and fetching a bottle that Wally hadn’t noticed until now; Bruce was sneaky like that. He was carried over to the couch and laid down on Bruce’s lap. The other two seemed content to let Batman ease Wally into things; he had the longest relationship with Wally which seemed to help. He held the bottle in front of Wally and lifted Wally’s hands to the edges. “Let’s see if you can hold it on your own yet. It’s no worry if you can’t.”
Wally tried, but his arms didn’t want to cooperate, not quite strong enough. It annoyed him and he whined slightly, which Bruce soothed with a hand on his hair. “It’s alright Wally. You’re not quite ready yet but that’s fine. You probably just need a little more time on your stomach to help strengthen your arms.”
The speedster grumbled at that but conceded that the elder was right. Bruce held it to his lips, but didn’t push it in. Evidently he was waiting for Wally to do it, wanting Wally to accept it on his own. He flushed slightly but did, leaning forward and wrapping his lips around the bottle. He started drinking, enjoying the sweet taste on his tongue as he looked lazily up at Bruce. The Gotham hero stared back down, hold gentle as he murmured encouragement, Clark and Diana talking quietly in the background. When he was done he was lifted to Bruce’s shoulder and burped. It made him feel embarrassed and little, but he knew it was much more preferable than the unpleasant and painful sensation of trapped gas in his stomach.
John was kind and had picked up most of what he needed to do while looking after Wally quickly, but he’d not realised the importance of burping a baby. This had led to an evening no one had enjoyed. Wally had been in a lot of pain, unable to get the pain to stop and had been crying loudly, wanting it to go away. John had floundered. He hadn’t been expecting a crying child, and had tried haplessly to calm him down. He hadn’t picked up the desperate edge in the cries, the sign that Wally was in pain, merely thinking something else was wrong. There was no one else on the Watchtower and after a while he’d given up soothing Wally himself, finally getting into contact with Bruce who was out on patrol.
It had been a daunting sight for the Lantern, Batman storming over from the teleporter with a dark look on his face, annoyed at having to abandon patrol. He’d scowled even further at the ex-marine when he registered Wally’s cries, easily able to pick up the pain within them. In short order he’d been able to deduce what was wrong; interrogating John as he went through the list of options that could be upsetting Wally including changing his diaper just in case. Once he realised the problem he’d quickly lifted Wally to his shoulder and started burping him, mindless of the part-hilarious part-terrifying sight of Batman in full costume burping a baby against his shoulder, ignoring the small amount of spit up that Wally had expelled. This had helped and lessened the pain slightly but it hadn’t got rid of it all. At that he had flipped Wally onto his arm so he was lying face down on the gauntlet and rubbed his back firmly. That seemed to do the trick, though it also meant Wally needed a new diaper, something that sent the small boy over the edge, exhausted and embarrassed from it all.
Batman had decided to take Wally back to the manor for the night, levelling a dark glare at John which made the lantern shiver before heading back to the teleport with the crying baby still held on his arm. John had been in his bad books for the rest of the month, unable to look after Wally on his own until the last few days.
When he was finished Bruce placed him on the ground. Wally looked up at him curiously at this, and was rewarded with another smile. “You’re much older than you were before Wally. You could probably crawl if you gave it a try.”
This had garnered them all a big smile, the potentially embarrassing nature of the act ignored in the face of being able to move independently. It had taken him a little bit but soon enough he was crawling across the floor and over to the others, leaning up and tugging on Shayera’s clothes, a babble escaping him as he got their attention. This made them all jump, having been engrossed in the video game. Shayera had smiled warmly, and pulled the little one into her lap, wrapping him in her wings and glaring at John who’d been cursing freely. The sight of the swearing Lantern had made Wally laugh, the bright sound drawing the attention of everyone. He wondered vaguely if he’d be able to crawl in superspeed. If so he’d be able to scare the crap out of at least John.
Putting his plans away for later, Wally spent much of the morning in Shayera and Diana’s arms, enjoying watching the others play games as well as the movie Clark had put on. When it came time for everyone to eat he’d been surprised when they’d put him in a highchair in the canteen. It’d been even more surprising when they had given him actual food. Sure it was almost entirely mashed food but was still food. His hand eye co-ordination wasn’t quite ready for him to manipulate a spoon so Clark had spoon fed him most of it, allowing him to grab and eat the chopped up pieces of cooked carrot and strawberries by himself. Afterwards he’d been given some apple crumble. When he looked at Clark incredulously the Kryptonian had merely winked. Saying with a smirk,
“Now what sort of farmboy would I be if I didn’t let you have apple crumble. My Ma would have tanned my hide.” All in all Wally had to admit, it was a much better meal than last time. It allowed him some actual variety. While the formula tasted alright, he’d gotten sick of the constant bottles. The rest of the afternoon had continued in the same vein, with only Superman and J’onn having to step out for a few hours to deal with some things. While they’d kept what was going on away from Wally the others clearly weren’t worried so he didn’t stress, unbothered by their absence but happy when they returned. The only real upset during the day had been the diaper changes which Wally struggled with, unhappy about his inability to control himself. But the others had calmed him, changing him quickly and taking him in their arms and soothing him afterwards.
He’d spent the night at Wayne manor, Bruce taking him there after dinner. Alfred had been delighted to see him again making him smile effortlessly while he played in Bruce’s study on the floor while he worked. Soon enough it was time for him to sleep, Bruce easily going through the bedtime routine, which included a bath before bed. Again while embarrassing Wally had to admit he liked it more now he was older. The bath toys were actual fun and he spent most of the time playing with them, barely even noticing Bruce cleaning him up, only whining when the vigilante had tipped him back on his arm to wash out his hair.
As Bruce got him ready for bed Wally had begun to get sleepy, leaning against the older man’s chest more heavily as he swayed, telling him about one of his battles with Two-face – a tale vastly more interesting than any children’s story available. It hadn’t been until the end of the story that he realised he’d been pulling Bruce’s shirt down with his hand in order to lay his head against the other’s chest. Bruce had simply rolled with it, allowing his warmth and the sound of his voice and heartbeat sooth Wally. When Wally had tried to pull away Bruce just shushed him, slipping him a pacifier and beginning another story. By the time he’d gotten to his confrontation with Scarecrow Wally had been out, breathing softly against him.
It was simple to lay the sleeping child down in the cot, smoothing a hand down his cheek before slipping out of the room with a baby monitor and closing the door. The room was completely wired, having sensors and defences built into the walls and at the bulletproof glass windows to alert them and prevent anyone getting in while Wally was vulnerable. There were also security cameras hidden in the room that both he and Alfred could access at all times, but the butler preferred to carry a baby monitor with him so that he could know if Wally needed him while he was away from the screens.
Bruce had then suited up and headed out to patrol Gotham while Alfred monitored from the Batcave, one screen devoted to Wally’s room so he could keep an eye on him. It was a largely uneventful night and Bruce returned unharmed, slipping into his own bed and falling asleep at once. Come morning Bruce had taken Wally back to the Watchtower where he had a bottle before eating with everyone else. Once done they’d laid him down on the couch and removed the bracelet, letting him return to normal. Wally had blushed, taking a few minutes to be able to look the others in the eyes before whispering thank you, at which point he was promptly swamped in a group hug, Batman being the last to join, mocked by Clark until he had. It had made Wally laugh and he relaxed, happy about what had happened and strangely eager to do it again.
Chapter 5: Epilogue
It has been months since everything had started.
Wally was looking forwards to returning to the Watchtower after his exhausting day at work, happy at a chance to relax.
As he materialised on the teleportation platform Wally felt himself relax, taking off his cowl and running a hand through his sweaty hair. It’d been a hard day, a hard week actually. Not only was he dealing with a difficult case at the precinct but his villains had been acting up, causing havoc at least once a day, sometimes more. Captain Cold especially had made it hard for him to deal with – in an effort to delay and frustrate the speedster he had frozen various policemen all around the city, with other crooks dragging them into view of the public when they got the signal. Wally had to run around and help defrost them while simultaneously dealing with Cold, his speed necessary to ensure that they didn’t die when they were freed from their cryogenic prison as Cold had used the more deadly setting on his cold gun than the one he used on civilians. This had meant he had hardly had time to eat, managing to get in a few bites using the account Batman had set up for him, but he’d still had to zip back to work so they didn’t miss him as he’d taken his lunch breaks to deal with the villains.
A noise ahead made him look up, something in him relaxing as he took in the sight of Batman walking towards him calmly, steps even and measured. Wally knew the only reason he could even hear him was because Batman was making an effort to make noise in order to not startle him. When he reached him Bruce promptly drew the slightly smaller speedster into his arms where Wally relaxed, letting the older man take his weight as his presence soothed him. Bruce pulled back slightly, taking his chin in hand to inspect his face, the corners of his mouth turning down at what he saw. He knew he must look exhausted.
“Hand,” Bruce said firmly and Wally raised it obediently, knowing better than to disobey. He mostly ended up spending the night little now, by choice but he usually stayed big for a while when he returned to the Watchtower after work. It gave him a chance to unwind, eat whatever he wanted and then spend some time chatting or playing games with the others. Clark was surprisingly good at Mario Cart and when they could get him to play Bruce dominated Super Smash Bro’s, somehow kicking arse as Jigglypuff; but clearly whatever Bruce had seen in his face made him deem it necessary for Wally to change immediately, not that Wally was arguing.
They had all gotten better at all of it over time, more willing to talk and compromise, the others keeping their word and allowing Wally to stay big when he wanted. However when the others, particularly Batman thought that he really needed it they could be very persuasive, never forcing him but emphasising everything and how much better he’d feel after it. He usually ended up giving in, and did feel much better overall once he had. The big bad bat was particularly skilled at knowing when he needed it and was uncannily able to accurately predict what age Wally would typically become. All their playing had also meant Wally had developed a little headspace and occasionally Bruce was able to slip him into it even while he was physically an adult, treating him like a toddler despite his older body, including carrying him and diapering him. It probably should have embarrassed him, but he was used to it by now.
Wally watched, already feeling his brain fuzz slightly, as Bruce pulled the bracelet responsible for everything out of his utility belt and slipped it carefully onto Wally’s slim wrist where it glowed gold for a moment before shrinking as it dissolved through his uniform to rest flush against his skin seamlessly. He knew very well by now that it wouldn’t come off unless one of the others removed it but that no longer stressed him out, finding comfort in it instead. He’d talked to the others about it and Bruce had explained how giving up control for some people was incredibly relaxing, that by not having a ‘choice’ it allowed Wally to let go; though Bats did point out that Wally always did have a choice, that if he safeworded they would all stop immediately. The bracelet glowed again for a second time and Wally felt the usual dizzying sensation; as though tossed into a tumble dryer while the world was also spinning around him. Bruce’s hands, which until then he hadn’t realised were under his armpits became firm, first to hold him up while he was disorientated and then to carry him, one hand moving rapidly to support his neck and head as he shrunk down before cradling him carefully in his arms.
As the weird sensation passed Wally looked up at the man holding him and any last semblance of his control as an adult disappeared when he took in how large Bruce looked compared to him. It seemed to be one of those days where instead of his mind going young as well he merely relaxed, fully adult in mind but surrendering control of every aspect of his life to the man holding him, happy to let him dictate everything single thing that would happen now, from what he did to how he was cared for. It made his mind soft and blurred, as though everything was happening in a soft haze.
His limbs heavy, Wally rested in Bruce’s arms and let him carry him over to a nearby bench, letting the stress of the day disappear as the Dark Knight carefully manhandled his unresponsive limbs, stripping the scarlet uniform off him and tossing it over his shoulder to be repaired and washed. Bruce then proceeded to carry Wally naked through the Watchtower, casually nodding in greeting to John and Shayera and letting the Thanagarian stroke a hand down the speedster’s back, John jokingly giving a soft swat to the redhead’s bare behind in farewell as they continued on their way.
He entered the bedroom the others had made for Wally while he was like this. The room had originally been a large empty room in the personal quarter’s hallway, though it had a bathroom attached to it like all the bedrooms. The room had been totally converted, walls painted a soothing blue with light colours flowing through the wall with the large window showing a stunning view of the earth. There was a full sized bed tucked in the corner but it was only really used by one of the adults who wanted to stay in the room with him instead of lugging one of the portable bassinets or cradle to their own room.
Alongside one wall was the bassinet and cradle; depending on how old he changed into they would alternate use of them accordingly. Wally wasn’t completely sure, but he felt smaller than he typically did. While that first time he had ended incredibly younger than what would come to be the norm; he now typically ended up around one year old, he occasionally transformed smaller – usually to around four to six months, but he had ended up at one month old more than once. This was usually when the magic embedded in the bracelet detected that he needed total dependence on those around him, typically after an especially harrowing and trying experience that left him both exhausted and emotionally fragile. He knew it didn’t bother the others in the slightest and he’d overheard Diana and Bruce talking once; admitting that it was a very humbling and warm feeling to be trusted so much, letting them look after him while he was so vulnerable. He knew that they were all grateful in general that he allowed them to take care of him, which still privately confused him as they were the ones doing something for him.
Bruce carried him into the attached bathroom, removing his cowl as he walked to the infant bath built as part of the room next to the ordinary bath and shower. It was at a comfortable height for the adults to stand while bathing him. Its presence had made Wally wonder more than once if Bruce had suspected just how often they would be doing this as he had redesigned the bathroom when they started to convert this into a nursery, putting it in when others would have probably just bought a portable infant bath to use when needed.
Bruce set his cowl down on the change table next to the bath, lying Wally on it and promptly pulling the strap attached across his chest, preventing Wally from going or rolling anywhere, chuckling as Wally groused at it and rubbing a soothing hand over the little belly.
“Little boy you know better than that. You’ve tried to wriggle away too many times for me not to use the restraint.” Still, the billionaire moved his cowl closer to the trapped baby where Wally predictably began to play clumsily with it, well aware of Wally’s fascination with it. While he knew Wally was currently too young to be able to roll around he could still wriggle and he found it safer to always restrain him, preventing any chance of an accident. Now that there was absolutely no possibility of Wally rolling or falling off Bruce took off his gloves, removed the armour from his forearms and turned on the tap, adjusting it till it wouldn’t scold or freeze Wally’s delicate skin. As he filled the bath, fetched the items he needed and added a capful of lavender scented baby wash to the water, swirling it till it dissolved.
When he was ready Bruce unclipped Wally, cradling his head and neck in the crook of his arm, hand cupping the small behind as he lowered the tiny body into the bath, careful to keep his head lifted above the water without straining the delicate neck. While surprised at how young Wally had turned, as he hadn’t been two months for a while he adapted quickly, mentally changing the plans he had made. It must have been an awful day; something that was on par with the week Wally seemed to be having. It had not escaped his or the others notice that Wally was becoming younger every time he returned at night to the Watchtower this week. This was the last straw however, and he would be informing Wally’s boss that he wouldn’t be returning for the next week; the other heroes that they’d been feeling out as well as the rest of the league would look after Central City for now as he had no intention of letting Wally age up until he’d rested. Wally might grumble but he knew if the little one really wanted to stop he could let him know and Bruce would remove the bracelet immediately.
While Wally’s work reducing the forensic scientist’s hours had been one of the catalysts that had prompted their intervention, it had come in handy as they had negotiated much more flexible hours for Wally, explaining that the speedster had a rare medical condition which required a lot of rest. This allowed him to leave in short notice to do his part as Flash as well as when things had started becoming too much for him. The others were now listed as medical contacts and were able to call in and get him leave even if Wally couldn’t for one reason or another. The redhead hadn’t initially liked the idea of lying to his colleagues about this but had given into them when they remained firm on the topic, their explanations swaying him. This change had vastly helped improve Wally’s health and remaining working had allowed Wally to retain his autonomy. It wouldn’t have bothered them if he had stopped working, some of the other leaguers didn’t have other jobs outside their hero work but Bruce knew that Wally would be uncomfortable living off another’s wealth, wanting to contribute in his own way.
Focusing on the small body Bruce took his time washing Wally, the simple task made more enjoyable because of the strong eye contact he maintained; Wally’s eyes fixated on his own blue ones as he stared trustfully up at him. The warm water and soothing smell helped relax Wally, and it was as if the tension was literally seeping out of the little body into the warm water, his mouth opening into a perfect little ‘o’ as he yawned, which made Bruce chuckle. Since they had started he knew that he had laughed more not only with Wally when he was younger, but more in general than he had done in years.
A tap on the bathroom door prompted Bruce to look up as Diana entered, smiling at the sight of the two of them. Walking closer she gently cupped her hand to Wally’s head in welcome, helping Bruce clean the baby fine hair there before looking at Bruce, slightly concerned.
“Wally’s even younger? He looks about two months old.”
Bruce nodded, concentrating for the moment on running the washcloth over the small boy, taking away any trace of sweat on the skin. He knew he had to hurry if he wanted to get Wally fed now that he’d seen him yawn. Sometimes the simple act of a bath was enough to get him to sleep, it was helpful sometimes but not always as they all preferred to bathe Wally as soon as he changed; it helped Wally, it relaxed him and definitely eased him into the shift of authority more naturally than anything else.
“Yes, it’s been the same all week and he is two months old.” He grasped the towel he’d thrown over his shoulder in preparation and lifted Wally out of the water, smoothly wrapping him in it. When Wally wasn’t so young or so tired they let him play in the bath but his motor control at this age was so poor there was no point. Regardless, an eight week olds vision only really allowed them to focus on things close to their faces like parents and brightly contrasting toys so one of the most engaging activities for Wally right now was simply holding him and letting the infant focus on their face.
Lying him down on the change table again he held a hand firmly on the small belly and chest as he turned to talk to Diana. “He’s been getting younger every day this week and this is far enough, he’s far too stressed and his appetite has diminished. He’s not going back to work for at least a week, more if I can wrangle Wally, or more likely Clark into accepting it.”
The Amazonian nodded, accepting Bruce’s assessment of the situation calmly. She stroked a hand soothingly along Wally’s face as Bruce dried him off, talking to the billionaire about the other concerning things she’d noticed with Wally this week; as well as potential activities they could do to help him relax. They often spoke like this around Wally while he was young: not to him but definitely about him, finding it incredibly effective in reminding him he was their charge. This was of course in addition to all the attention and time they spent talking and playing with the miniature hero. It did frustrate Wally when he had his adult mind but it worked well to emphasise his role then as the one to be cared for, not in charge of anything.
Indeed Wally was clearly frustrated at their behaviour and at what Bruce said was going to happen, whining loudly which Bruce just soothed by petting his skin, pretending that Wally was complaining for some other reason. Once he’d dried the small boy off he squirted some baby lotion into his hands and began to smooth it into Wally’s skin all over, taking his time to ensure it was rubbed in properly, the soothing lightly scented cream absorbing into his flesh. When he was done with Wally’s whole front he expertly flipped the small boy carefully over, one arm held along his front with his hand cradling Wally’s face to support his neck as he turned him before tilting his head to the side and doing that side of the baby’s body, reserving his bottom and privates for last which he then proceeded to thoroughly coat in the thicker nappy cream. He did this on purpose: the nappy cream was necessary to protect Wally’s delicate skin, both in general to create a barrier layer but also because redhead’s characteristically had more delicate skin, making those babies more prone to rashes. As the lotion and creams were both soothing, even while mildly embarrassing they frequently tipped Wally into his little headspace though he could see it didn’t this time by the redness of his blush even though Wally wasn’t fighting him and hadn’t for a long time.
That done he smoothly diapered him, taking the time to put his entire focus on Wally and not talking to Diana anymore while he did. He talked softly to Wally while he did regardless that it was something Wally was used to, the speedster had admitted to Bruce that he found his voice soothing, especially when he was feeling embarrassed. That done he slipped him into an infant Flash onesie that covered both his hands and feet, something that Wally had confessed to them helped him relax, having the added benefit of preventing Wally from accidently scratching himself as he’d done before, soft skin so delicate.
He knew that the others each had their own tricks to ease Wally after the transition; though he, Clark and Diana, as Wally’s primary caregivers had the most. They had talked about all of these with Wally while he was adult and he had said, while blushing heavily that although they were embarrassing they did help him give up control and relax, and that he did enjoy some of them. The ones he didn’t he explained that he understood why they were necessary, which relieved them all as they didn’t want to make him uncomfortable or feel like they were touching him inappropriately.
They all had been doing this for a while now and Wally had come to accept their care ages ago. That didn’t mean however that he didn’t occasionally fight their care and authority, which unlike his intention further highlighted his age as it was common and almost necessary for infants and toddlers to push against parental authority.
Cradling Wally in his arms, Bruce walked to the bedroom with Diana, fetching the bottle he had set on the warmer in preparation for Wally returning. He carried Wally out of the bedroom and into the recreation room where the others were, sitting down on the couch. With Wally lying back on his arm he slipped the bottle into his mouth and smiled at how Wally sucked on it immediately. Now that he was used to it, and even welcomed the drink they all had to watch Wally carefully while feeding, as he had a tendency to drink too fast. Clark waved hello to Bruce but left him to it, they all found it a special time when feeding Wally so left whoever was doing it alone.
Wally had been looking up at Bruce, but slowly his eyes started slipping closed and Bruce smiled, gently nudging the little boy in his arms and stroking his cheek with the hand holding the bottle when it looked like he was about to slip into slumber, careful not to shake him. It was important for Wally to get enough food, and it wasn’t good when he fell asleep while eating. He cooed at the grumpy face Wally shot him but kept it up until Wally was almost finished with the bottle, easily burping the dozing boy without waking him. That done he swaddled Wally in a soft blanket, and had a short conversation with Clark about what Wally needed, the Kryptonian agreeing to the week off, saying they’d check on Wally at the end of the week and decide with him then if he needed another one.
Satisfied at the compromise Clark offered Bruce left, going back to the teleport pad and getting J’onn to send him and his charge back to Wayne Manor appearing in the batcave, Wally oblivious to the change as he slumbered on.
Wally had felt relaxed when Bruce had slipped him into the bath, the water warm on his skin as he was carefully held. The man above him smiled down at him, murmuring gently as he took his time washing off the sweat that had been sticking to him, leaving him feeling clean. He’d started feeling sleepy and yawned, enjoying the sound of Bruce’s laugh; it had been a long day and he couldn’t wait to go to sleep. Another different hand on his head made him look up to see Diana standing next to Bruce, still in her armour but looking relaxed.
The two of them started talking above him as he almost dozed with his eyes open, not disturbed by being lifted from the bath onto a warm towel, enjoying Diana’s gentle ministrations. His mind was hazy and relaxed; dimly noting that he was right about being younger. He was brought back with a thump though when he heard Bruce mention that he wasn’t going back to work for at least a week, but more likely two when he talked to Clark, as the Kryptonian typically trusted Bruce’s judgement. It wasn’t fair! Yes it’d been a hard week but that didn’t mean he had to stay little.
He whined at this, frustrated at his inability to really vocalise his unhappiness both at the two talking about him as if he couldn’t understand them and at the decision and fact Bruce wasn’t going to give him a say; but the billionaire simply pretended he was grumpy at something else, stroking his skin to calm him. Wally was sure the world’s greatest detective knew what he was annoyed at, as he was uncannily able to interpret whatever Wally was struggling to tell them when hindered by his age. When his large warm hands started smoothly stroking lotion into his skin it confirmed that Bruce was ignoring his complaints and Wally tried to relax into the soothing motions, feeling smaller than ever under Bruce’s hands.
Once the Dark Knight rubbed it into his feet one of Bruce’s hands came up to hold his head and flipped him onto his front, tipping his head to the side before he’d even registered the change. It was both unnerving and soothing to be manhandled like that, reminding him just how vulnerable he was right now. He might have been scared if Bruce hadn’t then begun to massage the lotion into his skin, loosening the muscles he hadn’t even realised were tight. It made him embarrassed to feel the hands soothingly rub the cream into his behind and he started blushing, knowing what was going to happen next but helpless against it. He knew this was for his own good, and was just a part of diapering a baby.
Sure enough one of Bruce’s hands left his skin, coming back and immediately started smearing the thicker cream all over his behind, hands soft and gentle but perfunctory. He knew this was just one of the necessary steps in diapering Wally to Bruce: clean him, cover him in nappy cream, add some baby powder and do the nappy up. When the hero felt satisfied with his work Wally was gently flipped back onto his back and his blush became full bodied when Bruce reached down to coat his privates in nappy cream. Once the dark haired man was satisfied he diapered him up, placing a kiss to one of his hands.
By the time he was dressed he’d calmed down, feeling very small but warm with the knowledge that Bruce would take care of him, the Flash onesie he had put him in making him smile. He lay placidly in his strong arms as he was carried out of the room and accepted the warm bottle slipped into his mouth. As he drank he stared up at Bruce, enjoying taking in the sight of one of his caretakers, the warm blue eyes that rarely looked at anyone else like that, making him feel special. The sweet milk warmed him and he slowly slipped away, grousing when the big bad bat stroked a finger against his cheek to keep him awake. It stopped soon enough and he drifted away, dimly aware of being burped before he knew no more.
He woke in the morning to the sight of Bruce smiling down at him from his place on the change table in the billionaire’s room, Alfred’s voice audible from the door and dim memories of being softly woken and fed more than once during the night. He was changed into another full body onesie, this time a Batman one and knew that Bruce was going to keep putting him in the ones with mittens until he was satisfied with the amount of rest he’d gotten, as they encouraged him to sleep. It looked like there would be lots of time spent under a mobile for him the next few days. Hopefully if Bruce took him into Wayne Enterprises again he’d bring one of the more interesting ones, as last time he was bored to tears. At least Bruce was allowed to take him into the board room seeing that he owned the place, though hopefully if he had to leave unexpectedly again he’d either bring him along or leave him with Lucius Fox. Last time his secretaries had been ecstatic to look after ‘Bruce Wayne’s godson/his friend’s kid’ – (depending on his age), but he’d gotten very little sleep as they were constantly rocking him, passing him back and forth and pinching his cheeks – something he hated more than diaper changes and having his temperature taken. He trusted them, knowing that Bruce would not have left him with them if he hadn’t been one hundred percent confident about their trustworthiness. There was no way that Batman didn’t look into their backgrounds before hiring them and again when he planned to brought Wally in.
Indeed Wally spent most of the week and - after talking with Bruce and the others - the next one with Bruce; in the office, the manor or the batcave; spending one memorable afternoon having a picnic with Diana and Bruce in a meadow towards the end of Bruce’s property which was entirely enclosed with tall walls, the defences imbedded in them to keep out intruders were unnoticeable unless you knew they were there. The billionaire had, almost reluctantly brought him up to the Watchtower every day so the others could see and spend time with him. It’d been incredibly relaxing to be able to switch off and just do whatever Bruce wanted; he was fed, and played with regularly, and given plenty of naps. When Bruce was busy he’d either be entertained by the interactive mobiles and various ‘age appropriate toys’ – some definitely modified by Bruce to be more interesting for the fun loving scientist or Alfred who was more than capable of entertaining him. The Englishman had a wealth of fascinating stories; from his days before working as the Wayne butler to hilarious tales of the exploits from Bruce’s youth. Indeed most of them made Bruce at least slightly annoyed at his oldest friend; whether from the amount of dirt he was giving the speedster, or because he was telling Wally stories that had taken him years to get out of the butler – and some were tales he still hadn’t told Bruce.
Overall he felt well rested and much more relaxed when Batman eventually removed the bracelet and though he did immediately take the chance to run around the Earth a couple of times to stretch his legs, stopping crimes here and there; he also wrapped Bruce up in a tight hug which the stoic man reciprocated. He knew that when next he or one of the others decided he needed to put the bracelet on, most likely for the night instead of a couple of weeks, he would be loved and cared for just as much.
This chapter is the last one - but there will be other oneshots posted in the series that are from this universe.